Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s largest generic opioid makers, announced a tentative agreement with some 2,500 local, state and tribal governments over the company’s role in the ongoing deadly opioid epidemic. .
The deal – worth up to $4.25 billion – came after a series of blistering lawsuits and prior settlements in individual cases across the country over the past year.
Although much less well known, Teva, an Israeli company, and its subsidiaries produced far more prescription opioids during the peak years of the crisis than big-name opioid manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson. Its production of generic and branded painkillers has eclipsed the production of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, the drug most immediately associated with triggering an avalanche of overdoses and deaths.
Under the agreement, Teva would make payments over 13 years, earmarked for state, local and tribal programs to alleviate the opioid crisis, which has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. The $4.25 billion total included the nearly $550 million in settlements the company had already reached as trials were underway in San Francisco as well as Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana and Rhode Island.
States and communities can choose to accept a portion of their payments in overdose reversal medication, rather than cash.
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The agreement was brokered by representatives of a dozen state attorneys general. “Today’s announcement shows yet again that those responsible for this tragic problem will be held accountable and that help will be available for those affected by the opioid epidemic,” said Tom Miller, the Attorney General of Iowa, whose office participated in the negotiations. A declaration.
Teva said in a statement, “While the settlement will not include any admissions of wrongdoing, it remains in our best interests to put these cases behind us and continue to focus on the patients we serve every day.”
People close to the talks said around 10-12% of the money would be allocated to the fees of lawyers who, from 2013, filed suits against the company.
In 2016, Teva acquired Actavis, a generics unit of Allergan. For Teva’s settlement to be finalized, Allergan must also reach an agreement with these plaintiffs. Lawyers familiar with the negotiations said they expected the announcement to be made soon.
The deal also depends on an overwhelming majority of state, local and tribal governments voting in favor.
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Lawyers for an executive committee negotiating for local governments urged everyone to support the hard-won deal: “We encourage all of these groups to sign this agreement to allow these resources to get to those who need them as quickly as possible. need”. they said in a statement.
While that outcome seems likely, one state that participated, among the dozen that negotiated terms, has yet to sign: New York, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties, which prevailed against Teva in a civil jury trial last December. In the shadow of a second phase of that lawsuit to determine financial remedies, New York is still in talks with the company, a spokeswoman for the New York Attorney General’s Office said.
Securing an acceptable offer from Teva has been a particularly long battle for the states, tribes and municipalities that have filed lawsuits against it. While Purdue Pharma, for example, has often been associated with intensive and deceptive marketing of its brand name drugs to doctors, generic drug makers do not officially appeal to them for sale. Teva maintained that it does not market its opioids to physicians.
One of Teva’s first settlement offers, in 2019, consisted almost entirely of drugs, along with a small amount of cash. While Johnson & Johnson and the three drug distributors who also participated in that first bid reached an agreement two years later, Teva continued to litigate.
But in December 2020, the Senate Finance Committee issued findings particularly critical of Teva, among other manufacturers, for the millions of dollars it paid to tax-exempt groups that lobbied on lawmakers and others, pushing for better patient access to painkillers. At trial, plaintiffs said Teva, which has assumed a dominant position in the generics market by buying up smaller companies, ignored red flags such as orders for oversized pills.
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